Bill and Marie met in college and instantly bonded because of their keen intellects, love of learning, and interest in current events. The courtship was quick and unromantic especially hastened by graduation and plans to attend university in another state. He pursued the law and eventually specialized in taxation. She studied French literature and became a college professor.

Within the next 25 years, they had born and raised three sons, saw both sets of parents age and pass away, and juggled the demands of two different careers. Financially they were comfortable and experienced no major challenges. Yet unbeknownst to Bill, Marie had consulted an attorney to initiate divorce proceedings.

What happened?

Bill’s personality was black and white – literally. He did everything by the book. It annoyed, later infuriated him, when Marie interrupted conversations, whether it was between them or not. They had had long discussions about this behavior, which Marie seemed unable to change. She was upset with his rigidity and inability to understand that her comments were meant to be supportive, an act of bonding, and not intended to be disrespectful. She felt demeaned by his caustic judgment, which eroded her self-esteem and positive regard for Bill. This pattern continued for years with the conclusion that Marie wanted a divorce.

Can this relationship be saved?

Through her employer, Marie attended a program about personality types. Like a parched flower she soaked up the information and within a short time had developed proficiency in understanding the differences and values of each style. Although the examples discussed were focused on communicating with college students, Marie immediately saw the application to her personal life. By realizing that Bill was behaving true to his personality style, she was no longer bothered by his inflexibility. She also found it easier to check her impulse to comment because he did not need to connect the way she did.

It’s been over 3 years since she completed the program. Now empty nesters, Bill and Marie have more discretionary funds with which to enjoy cultural activities and visit their children who live throughout the United States and Asia. They are truly enjoying life and each other.